There is a shortage of dengue testing kits in several districts of Punjab, hindering the testing process for suspected cases of the disease. With 4,246 cases of dengue reported in the state so far this season, the Punjab health department is struggling to cope with the increasing demand for testing kits. The shortage has severely impacted the testing of dengue samples, as many government testing labs lack the necessary kits for confirmation.
The NS1 Antigen ELISA Kits, which are used to detect dengue in the first five days of symptom onset, were reported to be unavailable in several districts. In Patiala, the home district of Punjab’s health minister, two out of four dengue testing labs ran out of kits, forcing patients to seek testing at private labs, where they are charged around ₹600. This fee would otherwise be free of charge at government labs.
Punjab health minister Dr. Balbir Singh acknowledged the shortage and assured that more NS1 kits have been ordered. However, he also mentioned a delay in the supply of IgG/IgM dengue kits from the central government. Despite the shortage, Singh claimed that they have been able to control the surge in dengue cases in recent weeks.
Officials from the health department confirmed the shortage of NS1 kits, but stated that there is sufficient stock of IgG/IgM kits, which are used to check antibodies after five days of symptom onset. The erratic supply of NS1 kits has posed challenges for testing, as there have been days when no kits were available for tests.
The state health department had previously distributed around 50 dengue kits to various labs across the state, but these kits have already been used up in many districts over the past 10 days. Each kit has the capacity to test approximately 90 samples for dengue.
The shortage of testing kits not only impacts the testing process but also makes it difficult to accurately record the daily number of dengue cases. Efforts are being made to address the shortage by placing additional orders for kits to meet the growing demand.
– Punjab health minister Dr Balbir Singh
– Dr Sumeet Singh, district epidemiologist
– Punjab health department officials